I’m not one to always feel sorry for myself, but I definitely took a loop around the track on that train this morning.
It’s cold out. And rainy. The kind of cold and rainy that should just become snow already, but alas, it’s 8 degrees too warm. My Seattle readers know what I’m talking about. (Do I have an Seattle readers? Bueller?)
At one time in my life, I thought cold and rainy weather was charming. That was because I was heavily invested in the Twilight series, and thought Forks, Washington was a place where hot vampires lurk, and on the rare sunny day, they glitter in fields of clovers. The rest of the time, the gloomy weather provided the ideal backdrop for angsty teens with damp hair and puffy jackets, with whom said hot vampires would helplessly fall in love.
Unfortunately, I’m now 30 years old and married to a Coast Guard engineer instead of a vampire. I shouldn’t say “unfortunately.” Actually, very fortunately I am married to an incredible human who is not only hotter than Edward Cullen, but also helps our country be one where I can roam free and drink chai lattes every morning. He does not glitter like Edward, but he is definitely just as pale. Win..?
Anyway, the point is to say that cold and rainy weather is the WORST, with the exception that my 11 month old baby seems to sleep longer when it’s overcast. Thus, he slept in until 8am this morning, making my decision about which church service to attend much simpler. (Every week it’s “Do I take him to the 9:00 service, even though he’ll get tired by 9:45, and push his nap until 10:30 when we get home?” or “Do I take him to the 11:00 service, which means putting him down for his nap at 9:15 before he’s really tired, and potentially having to wake him up to go?” Momming his hard.)
Off to the 9:00 service we’d go! Waking up later means he will be bright-eyed and bushy tailed until 10:30, right when we get home. Perfect.
We bundle up and head out the door with only 15 minutes to spare. Church is 10 minutes away, which means I have just enough time to swing through the Starbucks drive thru. (Let’s be honest, I would’ve gone even if I didn’t have the 5 extra minutes.)
We roll up to church at 9:00 on the nose, and I pray that there’s a “reserved for families with small children” parking spot available. I see one. YES. THANK GOD. AMEN AMEN AMEN.
And then a 40-year-old dude in a jeep swings into it. I warily watch as he hops out of his car, and bolts into the church. Apparently he just left his baby or small child in the car. (Insert upside smiley face emoji.)
I was pretty peeved. My first thought was “Dude you are going to church! Why would you steal a reserved spot that may be needed for..oh, I don’t know..meeeee?! You need to up your WWJD game.” (I didn’t actually think about WWJD in that moment, but as I write this, it felt appropriate. I wonder where my lime green WWJD bracelet is…)
But then I tried to regroup. I thought “It’s okay. I’ll go park in the far away parking lot, and I’ll just use my half-broken umbrella to try and keep Anders and me warm on the 4 minute walk to the church. It’s fine. It’s fine!”
It didn’t feel fine as it was happening. My umbrella kept turning inside out, poor Anders was burrowing his head into me trying to stay dry and warm, and I was 98% certain my arms were going to break off as I tried to juggle my chai (WORTH IT), his breakfast lunch box, the umbrella, and Anders. May I remind you Anders weighs 26 pounds…he’s massive.
Anyway, with my hair in my face and an umbrella that only works on half the side, I barely made it to the front door. The whole time in my head, I was cursing the guy who took the parking spot, and thinking about how hard it is not to have a husband in town to help me carry things.
Poor sad me, the woman with a healthy baby, living in a comfortable home, freely attending church without persecution.
Once I got Anders settled in the nursery, I listened to a sermon about Mary (advent season!), and how God chose her to be highly favored. I cried when the worship singer sang “Mary, Did You Know?” (The only thing that could’ve made it better is if Pentatonix were performing at my church.) By the time I was leaving, I was mentally and spiritually calm. All was well with my soul.
As I made my way back to the front door with Anders in my arms and umbrella in hand, I braced myself for the same walk back to my car. It was still pouring out.
This is the point in the story where this time around, a kind older gentleman offers to carry something, or lends me his working umbrella.
I imagine I looked something like a hobbit from Lord of the Rings, trekking through treacherous terrain, leaning forward into the wind as the elements whipped my face. (My brain is very dramatic.)
Yet again, my arms were burning and shaking from holding my 26 lb sack of potatoes who does nothing with his limbs or core to help secure himself to me. My umbrella’s broken flaps were sagging into my face as I awkwardly tried to hold the handle without poking out Anders’s eyes or dropping his lunch box.
When we got back to the car, I threw the umbrella onto the ground, unlocked the car and threw Anders inside, then proceeded to get drenched as I stood in the freezing rain to secure him in his car seat before clicking him in.
Once I was finally behind the wheel, I’d completely forgotten the calm, serene feeling I’d felt only after service only 10 minutes prior. In my mind, I was just thinking about all those gosh-darn selfish church-goers who didn’t help me. (Knowing full-well maybe only 2-3 people even saw me, and our church is full of incredibly outgoing, Christ-like people.) I was thinking of how tired and wet and cold I was because my husband wasn’t around to help. My thoughts drifted to how inconsiderate people are of single mothers when they arrange events where children cannot attend, assuming most kids can just be left with the husband. I have to shell out $40 for a babysitter just to see other adults for 3 hours, for pete’s sake! I replayed the man taking the parking spot. I ran down a list of people who never contact me anymore, completely writing me off just because I’m a mom. So rude. Day in and day out, I’m in the isolated world of motherhood with no backup except his [fabulous] part-time nanny, while I’m working full-time. Can’t I catch a breakkkk??
Oh how quickly the woe-is-me thoughts piled up. All because of one– well, two– uncomfortable walks in the rain.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, I’m not one to usually feel terrible for myself. But like anyone, if I’m not careful, I can easily let my mind focus on the negative or difficult things in life instead of the positive. Next thing you know, I am internally ticking off a bitter list in my head and wishing people would just see how hard it is for me.
Okay, so carrying my child through the rain to church was kind of hard. And not having Aaron around to co-parent or provide companionship is kind of hard. And paying for childcare is kind of hard. And working full-time with only part-time help is kind of hard. And realizing certain “friends” were only for a season of life is kind of hard.
But none of it gives me the excuse to become narcissistic or bitter. Especially since I have chosen half of the aforementioned things, anyway. Why am I not focusing on the good? On the fact that my husband is gone because he’s an admirable human? On the fact that Anders gets to spend 24 hours a week with the greatest bff-nanny in the world? On the fact that I have the coolest job ever? On the fact that I have an insane amount of thoughtful, loving, inclusive friends? On the fact that Anders sleeps through the night and is healthy and hasn’t lost his cheeks?
Self-pity is so dangerous. It turns into anger. It turns into loneliness. It turns into addiction, hopelessness, and relentless pain.
We all know that feeling sorry for ourselves has exactly 0% productive power when it comes to living our most fulfilled life, so the theme of this post isn’t really revolutionary. However, I hope that in writing about my own dark hole today, anyone else can more easily recognize when they’re falling into a dark hole as well. You don’t have to stay in that hole. Removing yourself from the pity party of one is as easy as simply leaving. Remind yourself of the good. Laugh at how ridiculous life can be when you’re holding a half-broken umbrella and a baby and getting in your beautiful 2018 Toyota 4-Runner as if you’re some poor unfortunate soul (LOL). You’re not. You’re just you, and it just happened to rain today.